HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A top city official said lots of people who sell their used cars on Oahu are forgetting to complete an easy form that can protect them against legal and financial problems.
Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Honolulu city Department of Customer Services, said more do-it-yourself auto sales online are leading to problems for car owners who don't take care of simple paperwork, causing some big headaches.
There are hundreds of used cars and trucks for sale on Oahu listed on the Craigslist website, complete with photos and descriptions.
"With more and more sellers selling their cars through private transactions, they're not getting the guidance they would get in dealing with the dealership," Kajiwara said.
Kajiwara heads the city department that oversees motor vehicle registration and said many people who sell their own vehicles fail to fill out a simple "notice of transfer" form to let the city know the ownership is changing.
"We flag the vehicle in our records that we've been notified of a transfer and should anything come up with HPD or any legal aspect, it will be noted," Kajiwara said.
Without a legal transfer of ownership, the former owner is liable for any unpaid parking tickets, fines if the car is towed and could be held responsible if the vehicle is used in the commission of a crime.
"We know that the judicial system will go after the person who's on record, and it would be their battle to prove that it wasn't them," Kajiwara said.
The National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii handles dozens of vehicles donated to the charity every week and for donors' protection has them sign transfer paperwork the day turn over the car.
"It's in our name most of the time, so we're the ones that are getting all of these tickets that say we've abandoned a vehicle or something, and that's why we do transfer it into our name," said Diana Benningfield of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii.
The city also said car owners need to protect any old license plates they may have and don't just throw them in the trash, because crooks could use them on stolen cars.
"We also recommend that you turn that in to the DMV. There's no charge to the public. But want to ensure that these plates are properly destroyed," Kajiwara said.
If vehicle owners want to destroy license plates on their own, the city recommended they cut them up with a pair of metal shears.
Kajiwara also advised it people are buying a car that has not been registered for a while, they should check with city motor vehicles division to see if there are outstanding tickets or liens placed on the car.
That's because once someone buys a car and own its title, they also own all of the debts that come with it.